Abraham – Miranda II Preview, Prediction: Pantera’s Mouth For War Vs. King Arthur

Boxing can turn the stomach either through seediness or grisliness. The 2006 middleweight (160 lbs.) fight between Arthur Abraham and Edison Miranda managed both. Miranda broke Abraham’s jaw in two different places, and after that, every time he hit him in his badly misshapen face, blood spilled out copiously. It was hard to watch. It was as unsettling, or more, for the untoward hijinks in Abraham’s homeland in Germany — the way Abraham tried to quit but his corner talked him out of it, the long rest he got while the doctor treated his jaw when such a thing is forbidden, the five points docked from Miranda for fouls real or imagined. And yet, from this revolting affair emerged drama that otherwise would never have existed. If Abraham had not fought on and taken far more punches in his broken jaw from one of boxing’s biggest punchers, he wouldn’t cut the heroic figure he does today. If Miranda had not been robbed of a potential victory, there would be no shroud of controversy still hanging around the 2006 fight. And there wouldn’t be perhaps the most intriguing rematch that can be made in the sport coming up tonight. This time, all the advantages are going Miranda’s way. They aren’t in Germany; they’re in Florida, where Miranda’s fought several times. Miranda moved up to super middleweight (168 lbs.) because he claims he was having trouble making the middleweight limit, and Abraham will be on Miranda’s turf, since the fight’s at 166 pounds. Miranda’s sharpened his skills since then, too. So who wins? Abraham still has the edge in boxing technique, and that counts for a lot. He hasn’t beaten anyone of major note since the Miranda fight, but he’s looked exceptionally good. Miranda may be the bigger puncher, but Abraham is no slouch in that department. In fact, by all appearances Abraham’s gotten more aggressive, having withstood his trial by fire. He’s scored four sensational, highlight-reel quality knockouts in a row since the Miranda win. Granted, the competition was mediocre. Elvin Ayala, whose biggest career achievement before fighting Miranda this March was holding a sloppy-looking Sergio Mora to a draw, was the best of the bunch. Abraham, despite his increased aggressiveness, has never gotten impatient. He waited until the 12th round to land an uppercut that nearly bent Ayala’s head back to a right angle. He’s no worse than the third middleweight fighting these days, behind fellow titlist and division champ Kelly Pavlik for sure and maybe behind the exceptionally inactive Winky Wright. And, thankfully, he’s stopped coming into the ring dressed like a Smurf, opting for a more fearsome, respectable “King Arthur” routine. Speaking of flamboyance, Miranda still hasn’t shut his mouth, not once. Miranda may be the best trash-talker in the sport right now. There are some who find this annoying. I find it wildly entertaining. Last year, fighting Pavlik on a double-header where then-middleweight champ Jermain Taylor was his true target, he said: “I will not stop my attack until Kelly Pavlik is laying on the ground for good. If he is stupid enough to get up, he will get hurt badly. After I knock out Pavlik, it will be my turn to face Taylor. He just better hope I take my gloves off and leave the ring before he steps in, or I may be the first boxer in history to get two KOs in the same night.” Of Abraham’s opponents of late, he said: “To make matters worse, he brings all these bums into his backyard — a place where the referee treats him like his own daughter.” Miranda usually backs up his trash talk with massive knockouts. His KO of David Banks this year, when he knocked Banks through the ropes with one exceptional blow, is the best of 2008. He was on a hot streak, being built up as an attraction by HBO, until would-be cannon fodder Pavlik shut Miranda up with a thrilling but mostly one-sided beatdown. After that is when he decided he’d had enough of 160 lbs., and has looked sharper at his new weight. The settling of unfinished business is drama enough for Abraham-Miranda II. But the advantage switcheroo that gives Miranda the edge makes it more dramatic. Abraham has a lot riding on this fight — it’s his U.S. debut, and he could fight Pavlik later this year if he wins for a sizable mound of gold. For Miranda, it’s his chance to prove he’s more than a one-punch wonder, an elite fighter instead of merely a fun one. It’s a great match-up, too: A knockout artist who’s honed his craft but is vulnerable to being knocked down and out himself, versus a good boxer who has his own deep reservoir of power. My prediction: I think Abraham knocks out Miranda this time. He outboxed a guy who’d broken his jaw in two places late in the first fight. I almost always pick high class with some power over extreme power with some class. I expect him to do it late in the bout. Confidence: 60%. Miranda can knock a lot of guys out with one shot. His improved skill and the ideal conditions for him in this fight also bode well. But Miranda couldn’t knock out Abraham last time, and Miranda’s proven he doesn’t take punches as well as Abraham, although maybe that has something to do with being weight-drained. Either way, it’s pretty close to a pick ’em fight. My allegiance: I like Abraham, and applaud his bravery for coming over here for a rematch of his toughest fight. It’s just that smack-talking Colombian power-punchers are an enjoyable lot. Miranda is the best in the business, so he’s who I want to win. His nickname is “Pantera,” too! He’s got a mouth for war.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.